It seems too good to be true. Lose 5kg or more a week without being hungry? If you’ve been curious about the “miraculous” HCG diet plan, read on for insider info.
Note: This diet is not recommended for people with a BMI of less than 20. Don’t follow this diet if you have other chronic health (specifically hormone-related) issues. While it mainly targets people who are overweight or obese, even those seeking to lose as little as 2kg (with a BMI of more than 20) can do the diet.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)
HCG is a hormone that is naturally produced by the body during pregnancy. Its primary purpose is to help the fetus grow by thickening the walls of the uterus and helping in the creation of progesterone. The hormone has also been used to treat infertility in women as well as low sperm count in men.
Endocrinologist Dr. ATW Simeons found that, in addition to helping a fetus to grow in utero, HCG also helps to “reset” our metabolism. Specifically how our brains recognize hunger and how our bodies metabolize fat.
What this essentially means is that HCG communicates to our brains (specifically the hypothalamus, which is responsible for our metabolism) to release our fat stores of reserve energy that otherwise lead to extra weight.
If this communication does not take place effectively, the excess fat in our arms, hips, thighs, back and stomach increases and, if left untreated, leads to weight gain.
Dr. Simeons noticed that overweight patients who combined a low-calorie diet while on a small dose of HCG lost weight very quickly.
More importantly, the weight that these patients lost was excess fat rather than muscle mass and the excess fat was no longer heavily concentrated in one area of the body. Moreover, the weight loss was easier to maintain post diet due to a fundamental change in the hypothalamus, which seemed to have “reset” itself. No long- or short-term side effects were discovered during his studies.
Basics of the Diet
The diet starts with a two-day fat binge. For this reason, try to begin the diet on a Monday and do the fat binge over the weekend. It’s essential that you eat as much fat as possible during this two-day binge . This is an essential store that your body will use in the initial diet adjustment.
Since most people need 1,500 – 2,500 calories per day, your hypothalamus will signal your body to use your reserve fat stores to supplement the calorie shortage.
You need to do the diet for at least 23 days so that your metabolism has time to reset—i.e. you body learns not to crave those bad fats.
You will also need to take HCG in the form of drops or injections, which can be costly. Make sure that the HCG drops you take actually contain HCG as many of them do not. Buy from FDA-certified companies only! It is, after all, this hormone that helps people to lose up to 1kg per day and provides the necessary nutrient support that the body will need on this low-calorie diet.
The food options are extremely limited. This tends to be a mental challenge for many people. With each phase though, there will be a few more food choices
HCG diet plan food list
- Drinks: green and other herbal teas, water
- Fruit: apples, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, strawberries
- Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, fresh garlic, green onions, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes
- Meats (100g raw weight): chicken breast (deboned and skinned), fish (no fatty fish), lean ground beef
- Breads: breadsticks, melba toast
- Spices: basil, cayenne pepper, chili powder, coriander, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, rosemary, sea salt
All of these foods are naturally low in fat, which is one of the reasons you will lose weight. However, you cannot mix vegetables and fruits. Make sure you eat only one type of vegetable/fruit with your main meals.
No oils on the HCG diet plan either. Look for recipes in which the meat is poached, boiled or grilled. While artificial sweeteners are permitted, it’s better to drink unsweetened drinks with no milk.
HCG Diet plan menu example
• 2 eggs cooked in 1 teaspoon of butter • 1 slice of whole wheat toast • 1 small apple
: • 3 ounces of grilled chicken • ½ cup of steamed broccoli • ½ cup of cooked quinoa
• 1 low sugar protein shake • 1 small orange
• 3 ounces of grilled salmon • ½ cup of roasted sweet potatoes • 1 cup of steamed asparagus
• 2 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips
Controversy Around the HCG Diet
Many scientists argue that it is not the HCG that leads to such rapid weight loss, but rather the restrictive low-calorie diet. The main argument is that any diet that so heavily restricts calorie intake is guaranteed to result in significant weight loss.
The main counterargument also states that HCG is not available over the counter although the injections are legal when administered by a registered healthcare provider as they’re used in fertility treatments. Although you can purchase HCG drops from FDA-certified sellers, the drops themselves have not been FDA-approved as a weight loss supplement.
In terms of health, arguments have been made that such severe calorie restriction can lead to an electrolyte imbalance as well as heart arrhythmia and the presence of gallstones. However, many people in favor of the HCG diet argue that participants do not experience any surge in their heart rate. Lesser side effects such as tiredness, irritability, depression, restlessness and edema have also been mentioned although these are all reported to be short-term.
- If you’re extremely overweight, HCG helps to utilize the excess fat already stored in your body and shows immediate results.
- The hormone is one that is naturally produced and present in both men and women. However, this does not make the hormone homeopathic and products that make this claim actually contain no HCG.
- HCG helps to suppress your appetite while helping your brain to focus on the unneeded fat.
- The HCG drops are fairly expensive, and following the restrictive low-calorie diet without the drops can be dangerous.
- HCG requires a prescription in certain countries (US and Canada).
- There is insufficient scientific data to support the claim that HCG promotes weight loss.
Unfortunately, preexisting thyroid issues make the HCG diet unsuitable for me. However, while I’m unable to give a personal recommendation of this diet, I have seen the process and results firsthand through a close friend’s experience.
Kate has been dieting for most of her life and is well-versed in pros and cons of most diets. She began the HCG diet on 1 March last year. Over the next 10 months, she did phase one (8 weeks) twice with a 3-week break between each round (recommended). She then took a month off before doing phase two, approximately a month off and then ultimately did phase three. She’ll be starting phase four in February 2016.
In the 10 months since she began the diet, she has lost an incredible 50kg! Much of this weight loss has been around her abdomen, stomach, hips and thighs, which were her main problem areas. Se looks more toned, healthier and far happier than I’ve ever seen her.
The HCG diet has worked for her and many of her colleagues who undertook the diet with her. In her own words, it’s the first diet she’s found to be effective and one that she did not find difficult to follow although she admits that many of her colleagues did.
The HCG diet plan has its pros and cons like any other diet on the market. And, like any diet, first consult a healthcare practitioner—especially if you have any underlying health issues. However, there are numerous success stories with people who have tried it.
Have you or anyone you know tried this diet? We’d love to hear your personal experience with hcg die t plan.